Monday, July 23, 2007
The Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament ended yesterday.Asahoryu claimed another Emperor's Cup victory finishing ahead of Hakuho,who was trying to get his first Emperors Cup as a yokozuna.
As noted already I made it to the third to last day on Friday.I thought I was running late when I arrived at 10am as most days the bouts begin around 8:30.I was in luck as the first bout began at 10:20.I purchased one of the cheaper nose-bleed seats at 4,700 yen and found my plastic seat near the back of the gym.
Now its meant to be the Summer Tournament and outside it was a humid 26 degrees centigrade.But in Row K it was -26 degrees celsius.Someone had set the air-conditioning on the Arctic setting.The vents above Row K spewed forth a virtual solid curtain of ice.Cold currents.The whole day.From 10:20 to 6pm when I left.
Ridiculous.If you check the photo you will see an old lady is wearing a coat to fend off the cold.Others donned scarves and towels.The two skimpily dressed girls beside me wrapped themselves in the mornings paper,much like tramps to combat the Siberian like conditions.Luckily I'd bought a jersey so wore it to retain some body heat and prevent hypothermia.Uncomfortable and marred an otherwise enjoyable day.
As for the sumo itself it remains a highlight of my year.It was disappointing that Kaio pulled out that day but this was more than made for by the earlier antics of Kitazakura and Takamisakari.Kitazakura at 35years old is the oldest wrestler at the makuuchi level and is well known for his exuberant salt throwing displays prior to his matches.Takamisakari,I was reliably informed by the guy next to me is dubbed "RoboCop" given the way he walks and his prematch warmup and gestures.
The photo above shows the colorful dohyo-iri or "entering the ring" ceremony where the wrestlers display their kesho-mawashi or ceremonial aprons in a short ritual.Many different elaborate designs are on display and needless to say a great photo oppurtunity.
As the bouts progressed you notice that not only does the wrestlers and referees gear get more colourful but also the speed and skill increases.
Throughout the day the stadium fills as tour groups arrive.Herded by a flag bearing guide,businessmen saunter in with their guests to sit in the more expensive seats and hordes of schoolchildren invade and take over the cheaper ones in bulk.
This years Nagoya tournament will be memorable because local wrestler Kotomitsuki was fighting for promotion to ozeki rank.Although he missed out on a playoff against Asahoryu for a shot at the Emperors Cup by losing his last bout his winning record should be enough for promotion.
Kotomitsuki received loud support before his match and huge cheers and clapping after he won.His promotion will be considered by the Japanese Sumo Association later in the week.The last shot above shows the view from Row K brrr.